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Activity 1: Story — The Birth of Krishna (15 minutes), Workshop 4: Hinduism—One God, a Thousand Faces

In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story so you will be comfortable presenting it.
  • Copy the story for all participants.
  • Decide whether you will have participants act out the story after they hear it. If so, prepare a list of the roles in the story. Assign roles to volunteers and give them copies of the story ahead of time.

Description of Activity

Participants hear and discuss the Hindu legend of Krishna's birth.

Tell or read the story "The Birth of Krishna." Pass around Leader Resource 4, Image of Krishna. Ask participants for initial reactions. What did they think of the story?

Prompt further discussion by posing questions, such as:

  • Krishna was the eighth reincarnation of Vishnu. Many stories exist about gods taking human form to help people in times of great need. What impression do you get of Vishnu/Krishna from this story? What values do he and those who protect him (like his parents) exhibit? What behaviors and values do Kansa and his supporters exhibit?
  • How does the violence in this story affect you? What is the purpose of the violence in the myth? (To establish the low character of Kansa and the need for Krishna as protector and liberator.)
  • This story is told to children. Human societies throughout time have told children scary stories. The original Grimm's Fairy Tales, for example, such as Little Red Riding Hood, are very violent, filled with danger and scary imagery. Is there a benefit in telling such stories to children? If so, what is it?
  • Krishna is described as a mischievous child, and there are many stories of his pranks on family and friends. What purpose is there to describing Krishna in this way? Does it make a deity seem more accessible, more understandable, to have recognizably human qualities?
  • Were you scared for the baby girl who was exchanged for Krishna? How were you affected by the twist in the story—when Kansa tried to kill her but she flew into the air? What purpose is served by this element of the story?
  • Does it make you feel differently toward the god Krishna that he was born just as human babies are born and grew up with human parents?
  • How do you feel about the god Vishnu, who chose multiple times to be reborn on Earth to help humankind? Does this remind you of any stories from other religions?

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Last updated on Tuesday, November 26, 2013.

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